Why humidify universities?

Check out our free Buyer’s Guide and learn how low or fluctuating humidity can negatively affect universities.

University students live in close proximity to one another – attending sporting events, living in the dormitories, collaborating in lecture halls, and dining together in campus cafeterias – which creates many opportunities for viruses like SARS-CoV-2 and seasonal influenza viruses to spread easily. Regulating the relative humidity (RH) within the enclosed spaces of universities can add an additional layer of defense against the spread of viruses, protecting the well-being of the staff and students

Humidification improves indoor air quality because bacteria and viruses thrive in dry air. Studies have shown an increase in potential respiratory illnesses when room RH drops below 40 percent. Keeping RH levels within a range of 40 to 60 percent decreases bacteria and viruses in the air and hinders the development of fungi, mites, chemical interactions, and ozone production. The result is reduced allergic rhinitis, respiratory infections, and asthma among staff, professors, faculty, and students. Responsive humidification system control is essential to ensure RH levels do not rise above 60 percent.

As universities navigate these challenging times, they face declining enrollment and need new ways of keeping their staff, faculty, and students safe. Learn how controlling relative humidity can help.

Well-being of staff, faculty, students, and the surrounding community

Reducing stress levels
In areas where students and staff spend most of their time, such as dormitories and lecture halls, maintaining RH levels between 30% – 60% in highly used areas may lower stress levels.1 A study comparing occupants in an environment with an RH level between 30% – 60% and those in drier conditions measured a 25% difference in stress response levels

Reducing the spread of viruses
When the RH level is 23% or less, viruses retain about 70% – 77% infectivity compared to only 15–22% of viruses where the RH level is greater than or equal to 43%.2 Maintaining RH levels between 40 to 60 percent decreases bacteria and viruses in the air and hinders the development of fungi, mites, chemical interactions, and ozone production.

Only 46% of university students 18-24 years old attending a two- or four-year college or university get an annual flu shot.3 Using non-pharmaceutical interventions like humidification to complement vaccinations is a safe, efficient, and easy way to reduce the spread of influenza and protect staff members and students.

An assessment administered to Villanova University undergraduate students found that 17% of those assessed said cold/flu/sore throats had affected their academic performance.4 Properly controlled RH reduces the spread of airborne viruses.

Decreased absences
Maintain the recommended RH level, especially within dormitories and cafeterias, to lessen the impact of contagious respiratory illnesses like seasonal influenza and the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Absences of staff, faculty, and students increase during the dry winter months, often due to chronic
respiratory illnesses. Research has established that flu outbreaks can be predicted 14 to 16 days after
outdoor humidity bottoms out in the continental United States.

Other issues
Dry air can cause damage to furnishings, musical instruments, gymnasiums, lecture halls, and other building materials. Controlled humidity levels can protect against:

  • Cracking and splitting of flooring or woodwork
  • Deterioration of fabrics and other materials
  • Damage to finishes and surface distortion


Buyer’s Guide: Humidification for Universities 
Learn more about how controlling a university’s relative humidity can keep staff, faculty members, students, and the surrounding community safe. 


1. Well-built for well-being: Controlling relative humidity in the workplace matters for our health
2. High Humidity Leads to Loss of Infectious Virus from Simulated Cough
3. Addressing the Challenges of Influenza Vaccination on US College Campuses
4. Focus on Top Impediments to Academic Success

Next steps

Contact your local DriSteem representative to learn more about humidity control for universities. Use the Find a Rep tool below to find your nearest representative.

Already using humidity control to protect university facilities?

For best performance and highest efficiency, existing humidification systems should be checked to determine if any replacement parts are needed, if any other maintenance needs to be performed, and whether there is a software update available. Contact your local DriSteem representative to learn more.

Find your local rep